Book Fight, Round Two

A few weeks ago I took notice of a looming book fight between Richard Dawkins’ forthcoming The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution and Jerry Coyne’s book Why Evolution is True.

I gave Round One to Dawkins on the grounds of having a better title. Now Round Two goes to … Coyne!

His book has shown up on Newsweek‘s list of fifty books to read now. Quite an honor!

What’s that you say? Not really a fair fight since Dawkins’ book hasn’t been published yet? Cry me a river. Timing is everything.


  1. #1 MartinDH
    June 30, 2009

    WEIT is a wonderful book: the evidence for evolution layed out in one concise, easy-to-read book. My two complaints are the frequent (and unnecessary) snide anti-creationist/IDist comments and zero emphasis placed on the generational holocaust required to make evolution work.

    I feel that Dawkin’s prose style is a long way in front of Coyne’s (cf. “Ancestor’s Tale”, “Blind Watchmaker” &c.) and so I’m looking forward to September 22nd!


  2. #2 Jerry Coyne
    June 30, 2009


    Not a fight! Our books are very different, as one might expect. And we’ve been mutually supportive: Richard gave me a cover blurb, and I’m doing the same for him. We’re all in the pro-evolution battle together.


  3. #3 John Kwok
    June 30, 2009

    IMHO Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution is True” ranks alongside similar books written by his Harvard University mentor Ernst Mayr. It is the best little book I know of that mentions virtually every important bit of evidence in support of evolution (For me the only glaring admission is Coyne’s omission of the importance of mass extinctions in reshaping the Earth’s biosphere at least five, more likely, as many as eight, times in the past 550-odd million years (The time interval known as the Phanerozoic Eon.).

    However, if Dawkins’s new book is as extensive as his superb “The Ancestor’s Tale”, then I think Coyne has some serious competition!

  4. #4 Jason Rosenhouse
    June 30, 2009

    Jerry –

    Well you’re no fun at all! You’ll have a fight if I say you’ll have a fight… 🙂

    And I’m very jealous that you’ve gotten to see Dawkins’ book.

  5. #5 John Kwok
    June 30, 2009

    Jason –

    So has Genie Scott. She was asked by Dawkins’s American publisher to contribute a blurb.

  6. #6 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    June 30, 2009

    We’re all in the pro-evolution battle together.

    How touching. Let’s all join hands and sing Kumbaya.

  7. #7 llewelly
    July 2, 2009

    Jerry Coyne | June 30, 2009 9:16 AM:

    Not a fight!

    I hope this doesn’t mean the Dawkins vs Coyne jello wrestling has been canceled?

  8. #8 Greg Saville
    July 9, 2009

    My gawd, it is 2009!! Why do we even need books explaining the validity of evolution???

    Yes, I know I’m being silly and unrealistic about the current collapse of basic science education in the United States. But still…

    The value in books like GSE or WEIT is whether the message of scientific and evolutionary reality can be made palatable and sensible to the fence-sitters, the gullible, or the uniformed. Perhaps THAT is the metric on which we should measure the value of such books?

    The rest of us hardly need books to convince ourselves of what we already know.

  9. #9 Siverek, Siverek Haber
    July 19, 2009

    My gawd, it is 2009!! Why do we even need books explaining the validity of evolution???

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